writes "How bad is the gridlock in Washington D.C.? So bad that the nation's retailers are calling for federal legislation on cyber security and data protection to protect consumer information — this even though they would bear the brunt of whatever legislation is passed.
The Security Ledger notes (https://securityledger.com/2014/11/retailers-demanding-federal-action-on-data-breach/) that groups representing many of the nation's retailers sent a letter to Congressional leaders last week urging them to pass federal data protection legislation that sets clear rules for businesses serving consumers. The letter, dated November 6, was addressed to the majority and minority party leaders of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives and signed by 44 state and national organizations representing retailers, including the National Retail Federation, the National Grocers Association, the National Restaurant Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, among others.
“The recent spate of news stories about data security incidents raises concerns for all American consumers and for the businesses with which they frequently interact,” the letter reads. “A single federal law applying to all breached entities would ensure clear, concise and consistent notices to all affected consumers regardless of where they live or where the breach occurs.”
Retailers would likely bare the brunt of a new federal data protection law. The motivation for pushng for one anyway may be simplicity. Currently, there are 47 different state-based security breach notification laws, as well as laws in the District of Columbia and Guam. (http://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/security-breach-notification-laws.aspx) There is broad, bi-partisan agreement on the need for a data breach and consumer protection law. However, small differences of opinion on its scope and provisions, exacerbated by political gridlock in Congress since 2010 have combined to stay the federal government’s hand."Link to Original Source
writes "The technology revolution that is “fracking” has created billions in wealth for states like Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio and Wyoming. But all that oil and all those dollars have attracted the attention of sophisticated spies from near and far to steal valuable trade secrets. (https://digitalguardian.com/blog/industry-spies-do-mess-texas)
Digital Guardian's blog notes this report (http://www.news4sanantonio.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/oil-field-espionage-eagle-ford-shale-16921.shtml) from News 4 San Antonio in Texas which quotes local FBI officials saying they are “very concerned” about theft of trade secrets from companies engaged in “fracking” in the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas.
“It's corporate espionage, there’s no question about it," said Christopher Combs of the San Antonio FBI. “Foreign governments or foreign companies are looking for any competitive advantage. Whether it's the widget that you use to drill, or it's a process that you use to track inventory better. They're really looking at the company as a whole to find out every little thing that you do that makes you a better company on the world market."
Combs declined to name specific firms, but said that Chinese firms are “aggressively” engaged in industrial espionage. However, the problem isn’t limited to China. Companies with ties to governments that are U.S. allies are believed to be conducting espionage against innovative US firms as well.
Hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” is a method used to extract oil or gas deposits from porous rock like sandstone and shale. The technique was developed in the United States with financial support from the U.S. government and is now used commercially in shale deposits in the U.S., Canada and China. However, the specific technology and methods associated with fracking are closely guarded and highly valuable to drilling outfits.
Recent history suggests that oil and gas exploration is an area of intense activity for cyber spying. In July, the Department of Homeland Security warned of targeted attacks against energy firms in the U.S. and Europe linked to the "Havex" malware, a kind of remote access tool. (https://securityledger.com/2014/07/dhs-warns-energy-firms-of-malware-used-in-targeted-attacks/). That same month, the American Petroleum Institute launched an Oil and Natural Gas Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ONG-ISAC) designed to help protect companies in the industry from attacks and evaluate risks through information sharing.(http://ongisac.org/)"Link to Original Source
writes "Headline grabbing data breaches are such a fixture of our modern business environment (https://corporate.homedepot.com/mediacenter/pages/statement1.aspx) that they’ve spawned a knock-off market: phony data breaches designed to look like the real thing, the Security Ledger reports.(https://securityledger.com/2014/10/wanna-breach-counterfeit-data-breaches-are-a-thing/)
A research note from the firm Deloitte & Touche is warning companies about the threat of counterfeit breaches, in which malicious actors use false claims about massive data breaches to bedevil established firms – inflicting real economic and reputation damage.
Bogus breach claims are becoming more common — with gullible or hair trigger 24/7 media coverage a leading contributor to the phenomenon. In October, for example, an individual posted what were purported to be stolen Dropbox account credentials on the site Pastebin. The message claimed the leaked credentials were part of a larger trove of 7 million accounts that were compromised — a claim that was widely reported. Dropbox, however, maintained that it was not hacked and that the leaked credentials – user names and passwords – were stolen from other online services.
Deloitte researcher Allison Nixon said companies need to develop strategies to quickly assess data breach claims: from automated analysis of user names against known customer accounts to statistical analysis of user name and password entropy. And, companies should feel free to use the "sniff test": asking them how likely a real cyber criminal is to behave in the way they are observing.
The public and media should also view claims of data theft and hacks with a more skeptical eye, Nixon says."Link to Original Source
writes "PCs are being co-opted into a massive botnet called Qbot. They're getting compromised by hitting legitimate sites providing legitimate content using frameworks such as Wordpress. Online bank account information is also getting harvested. 75% of these machines are located in the USA, with just under 40% of them running Windows 7 and over half of them machines that are still running XP.
From PCWorld India :
"Link to Original Source
The MO is to target, compromise and harvest legitimate Wordpress sites using bought-in credentials, even exploiting newsletters from these sites to spread drive-by malware links. From this, users with vulnerable browsers or software (Java, Reader, Flash) of the sort that can be hit by exploit kits to infect machines using droppers in chosen geographical locations.
What the attackers are after is online banking logins, which form half the business, and PCs that can be sold on to other criminals as compromised machines inside interesting organisations. These can also then be used a proxies for third-party attacks.
They seem keen to protect this nice little business, going to some lengths to regenerate different pieces of the attack chain every time anti-virus engines have started to detect it.
Molly McHugh (3774987)
writes "We spoke with Navy Federal Credit Union, USAA, Chase, and PNC—banks who are working with Apple to incorporate Apple Pay—to find out just how secure Apple Pay will be when the "October" release date finally arrives. (USAA tells us that Apple Pay will be available for its Visa and MasterCard carrying customers starting Nov. 7.)"Link to Original Source
writes "The Security Ledger reports on a survey from consulting firm McKinsey & Co. (https://securityledger.com/2014/10/mckinsey-consumers-want-connected-cars-and-fear-them-too/#.VDa0dyldXWI) that has some sobering data for car makers: concerns about privacy and the possibility of car hacking are major concerns that could dampen enthusiasm for smart vehicles.
The report, “What’s Driving the Connected Car?” (http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/manufacturing/whats_driving_the_connected_car) finds that connectivity features will be a major driver of car sales in the coming years. The survey of 2,000 new car buyers in Brazil, China, Germany and the U.S. found that a quarter of respondents considered connectivity a more important feature than engine power or even fuel efficiency.
Connected (or "smart") car features will become ubiquitous and expected, McKinsey predicts, but won't demand a premium from buyers as they do today.
However, car makers also face a considerable hurdle in convincing the buying public to accept connected car technologies. According to McKinsey, 37 percent of respondents to their survey said they “would not even consider a connected car.”At the root of resistance to connected vehicle technology were ubiquitous fears about vehicles being hacked – which were evident in each country that McKinsey surveyed.
In Germany and Brazil, 59 percent of those surveyed strongly agreed with the statement “I am afraid that people can hack into my car and manipulate it (eg, the braking system) if the car is connected to the Internet.” 53 percent of respondents agreed with that statement in China and 43% in the U.S.
That leaves car makers in a tricky position: trying to satisfy customers who "demand connectivity, have security concerns regarding it, and are only marginally willing to pay for it." Hmm...where have we heard that before??"Link to Original Source
writes "The Security Ledger reports (https://securityledger.com/2014/10/fda-issues-guidance-on-security-of-medical-devices) that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued final guidance on Wednesday that calls on medical device manufacturers to consider cyber security risks as part of the design and development of devices.(http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm416809.htm)
The document, “Content of Premarket Submissions for Management of Cybersecurity in Medical Devices,” (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/UCM356190.pdf) asks device makers seeking FDA approval of medical devices to disclose any “risks identified and controls in place to mitigate those risks” in medical devices. The guidance also recommends that manufacturers submit documentation of plans for patching and updating the operating systems and medical software that devices run.
While the guidance does not have the force of a mandate, it does put medical device makers on notice that FDA approval of their device will hinge on a consideration of cyber risks alongside other kinds of issues that may affect the functioning of the device. Among other things, medical device makers are asked to avoid worst-practices like 'hardcoded' passwords and use strong (multi-factor) authentication to restrict access to devices. Device makers are also urged to restrict software and firmware updates to authenticated (signed) code and to secure inbound and outbound communications and data transfers."Link to Original Source
writes "Although it has been fading for years, the final death knell came recently for the iconic Lotus 1-2-3. In many ways, Lotus 1-2-3 launched the PC era (and ensured the Apple II success), and once was a serious competitor for Excel (and prior to that Multiplan and VisiCalc). Although I doubt if anyone is creating new Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets, I'm sure there are spreadsheets still being used who trace their origin to Lotus 1-2-3, and even Office 2013 still has some functions and key compatibility with Lotus 1-2-3. Oh, how far the mighty have fallen."Link to Original Source
writes "The White House has identified cyber-physical system research and development as a “national priority” that could boost U.S. productivity. But federal spending is telling a different story. A major source of research dollars is the National Science Foundation (NSF). It will fund more than $40 million in cyber-physical systems research in the 2014 fiscal year, which ended Tuesday. This amounts to about 0.5% of the approximately $7 billion the U.S. spends on basic research through this agency. It has spent, in total, $200 million in this area since 2009. Separately, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is deeply involved in standards and data formats, is running its cyber-physical program on $4.3 million. A NIST report found that the European Union “is already investing $343 million per year for 10 years to pursue ‘world leadership’ through advanced strategic research and technology development related to CPS" (cyber-physical systems). That includes $199 million in public funds and $144 million in private funds"Link to Original Source
writes "The Security Ledger reports (https://securityledger.com/2014/09/senate-report-warns-of-attacks-on-military-transport-contractors/#.VBrO4C5dXWI) on a Senate Armed Services Committee investigation that found evidence that hackers associated with the Chinese government compromised the computer systems of U.S. Transportation Command contractors at least 20 times in a single year. The attacks pose a serious risk to the system that moves military troops and equipment.
U.S. Transportation Command – a joint military/civilian program – was targeted by hackers believed to be affiliated with the Chinese government, a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation found.
The Committee released the report on Wednesday. (http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SASC_Cyberreport_091714.pdf) It found a serious gap in awareness and reporting requirements. TRANSCOM was only aware of two of the 20 intrusions, while U.S. Transportation Command remained mostly unaware of the computer compromises of contractors during and after the attacks.
The incidents include an attack that spanned two years – from 2008 to 2010 – and that captured emails, documents, passwords and computer code. A 2012 attack gained access to “multiple systems” onboard a commercial ship contracted by TRANSCOM, the Committee found.
Information sharing about cyber attacks was woeful. An audit of a subset of TRANSCOM contractors uncovered 11 cyber intrusions believed to be linked to China. The Committee said the FBI or DoD had already identified another 9 linked to TRANSCOM contractors. Of those 20, however, information on just two was relayed back to TRANSCOM."Link to Original Source
writes "The Security Ledger reports (https://securityledger.com/2014/08/facebook-awards-internet-defense-prize-for-work-on-securing-web-apps/) on Facebook awarding its first ever monetary prize for groundbreaking work on cyber defense.
In a blog post on Wednesday, the company announced its first ever, $50,000 Internet Defense Prize was awarded to Johannes Dahse and Thorsten Holz, both of Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany for their work on a method for making software less prone to being hacked.(https://www.facebook.com/notes/protect-the-graph/internet-defense-prize-awarded-at-23rd-usenix-security-symposium/1491475121092634)
Dahse and Holz developed a method for detecting so-called “second-order” vulnerabilities in Web applications using automated static code analysis. Their paper (https://www.usenix.org/system/files/conference/usenixsecurity14/sec14-paper-dahse.pdf) was presented at the 23rd USENIX Security Symposium in San Diego.(https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity14/technical-sessions)
In a blog post announcing the prize, John Flynn, a security engineering manager at Facebook, said the Internet Defense Prize recognizes “superior quality research that combines a working prototype with significant contributions to the security of the Internet—particularly in the areas of protection and defense.”
Second order vulnerabilities are distinct from ‘first order’ security holes like SQL injection and cross site scripting. They allow an attacker to use one of those first-order flaws to manipulate a web application and store a malicious payload on a web server. That payload, which may be stored as a shared resource on the application server, can later be used to target all users of the application.
Dahse and Holz’s work was chosen by a panel to receive the prize both on its technical merit and because panelists could “could see a clear path for applying the award funds to push the research to the next level,” Flynn wrote."Link to Original Source
writes "The Security Ledger reports (https://securityledger.com/2014/08/study-finds-unrelenting-cyber-attacks-against-chinas-uyghurs/) on a new study of China's persecuted Uyghur minority that describes a community besieged by cyber attacks and with little protection from punchless antivirus software.
The study, “A Look at Targeted Attacks Through the Lense of an NGO” (http://www.mpi-sws.org/~stevens/pubs/sec14.pdf) is being presented at the USENIX Security Conference in San Diego on August 21. In it, researchers at Northeastern University and The Max Plank Institute studied a trove of more than 1,400 suspicious email messages sent to 724 individuals at 108 separate organizations affiliated with the Uyghur World Congress, an umbrella group representing Uyghur interests.
The study found that the "APT" style targeted attack weren't so "advanced" after all. The individuals or groups behind the attacks relied heavily on malicious e-mail attachments to gain a foothold on computers with malicious Microsoft Office or Adobe PDF attachments the favorite bait. The groups behind the attacks did not rely on – or need – previously unknown (or “zero day” ) software vulnerabilities to carry out attacks. Known (but recent and unpatched) software vulnerabilities were enough to compromise victim systems.
NGO groups are depicted as having few defenses against the attacks: anti virus software was largely ineffective at stopping malicious programs used in the attacks.“No single tool detected all of the attacks, and some attacks evaded detection from all of the antivirus scanners,” wrote Engin Kirda, a researcher at Northeastern University in a blog post.(http://labs.lastline.com/a-look-at-advanced-targeted-attacks-through-the-lense-of-a-human-rights-ngo-world-uyghur-congress) Even months after the malware was used against the WUC, “standard anti-virus (AV) detection software was insufficient in detecting these targeted attacks,” Kirda wrote."Link to Original Source
writes "The security community has been aware of the danger posed by open redirect vulnerabilities (http://cwe.mitre.org/data/definitions/601.html) for years, but that hasn't added any urgency to calls to fix them.
Now data from Akamai shows that open redirects are a leading culprit in SEO attacks, in which scammers use redirects from legitimate web sites to plant malicious software on the computers of unsuspecting visitors. "Open redirect vulnerabilities are frequently left un-patched on major sites across the Internet, and these vulnerabilities are being exploited extensively by malicious actors and organizations," writes Akamai researcher Or Katz in a post on The Security Ledger.
In just one example, Akamai observed an SEO attack in which 4,000 compromised web servers at legitimate web sites were used to redirect visitors to more than 10,000 malicious domains. The activity also served to boost the search engine ranking of the malicious sites, Akamai said."Link to Original Source
writes "The Security Ledger reports that a four year-old vulnerability in an open source component that is a critical part of Android mobile OS leaves hundreds of millions of mobile devices susceptible silent malware infections. (https://securityledger.com/2014/07/old-apache-code-at-root-of-android-fakeid-mess/)
The vulnerability was disclosed on Tuesday (http://bluebox.com/news/). It affects devices running Android versions 2.1 to 4.4 (“KitKat”), according to a statement released by Bluebox. According to Bluebox, the vulnerability was found in a package installer in affected versions of Android. The installer doesn't attempt to determine the authenticity of certificate chains that are used to vouch for new digital identity certificates. In short, Bluebox writes “an identity can claim to be issued by another identity, and the Android cryptographic code will not verify the claim.”
The security implications of this are vast. Malicious actors could create a malicious mobile application with a digital identity certificate that claims to be issued by Adobe Systems. Once installed, vulnerable versions of Android will treat the application as if it was actually signed by Adobe and give it access to local resources, like the special webview plugin privilege, that can be used to sidestep security controls and virtual ‘sandbox’ environments that keep malicious programs from accessing sensitive data and other applications running on the Android device.
In a scenario that is becoming all too common: the flaw appears to have been introduced to Android through an open source component — this time from Apache Harmony (http://harmony.apache.org/), an open source alternative to Oracle’s Java. Google turned to Harmony as an alternative means of supporting Java in the absence of a deal with Oracle to license Java directly.
Work on Harmony was discontinued in November, 2011. However, Google has continued using native Android libraries that are based on Harmony code. The vulnerability concerning certificate validation in the package installer module persisted even as the two codebases diverged."Link to Original Source
writes "The Security Ledger reports on newly published research from the firm zScaler that reveals CNN's iPhone application — one of the leading mobile news apps — transmits user login session information in clear text. (https://securityledger.com/2014/07/cnn-app-leaks-passwords-of-citizen-reporters/). The security flaw could leave users of the application vulnerable to having their login credential snooped by malicious actors on the same network or connected to the same insecure wifi hotspot. That's particularly bad news if you're one of CNN's iReporters — citizen journalists — who use the app to upload photos, video and other text as they report on breaking news events, zScaler warned in a blog post.
According to a zScaler analysis (http://research.zscaler.com/2014/07/cnn-app-for-iphone.html), CNN's app for iPhone exposes user credentials in the clear both during initial setup of the account and in subsequent mobile sessions. The iPad version of the CNN app is not affected, nor is the CNN mobile application for Android. A spokesman for CNN said the company had a fix ready and was working with Apple to have it approved and released to the iTunes AppStore.
The privacy of journalists' private communications has never been more a risk. Reporters find themselves in the crosshairs of sophisticated hacking crews, often working at the beck and call of anti-democratic regimes. They have infiltrated the networks of newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post — often in search of confidential communications between reporters and policy makers or human rights activists. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/technology/chinese-hackers-infiltrate-new-york-times-computers.html) Here in the U.S., the Obama Administration is aggressively pursuing Pulitzer Prize winning journalist James Risen of The New York Times in order to uncover the source for a chapter in his book State of War concerning a covert US operation against Iran. (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/06/02/318214947/times-reporter-must-testify-about-source-court-decides)"Link to Original Source